An emergency call resulted in a first responder taking a baby home to keep as his own.
“I will never forget that day. It was a day when a lot of things came full circle,” Marc Hadden told CNN.
Someone had called 911. A woman was suffering severe abdominal pain.
When he arrived at the scene, the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, firefighter discovered the source of the woman’s discomfort was her labor pains.
Time slipped away. Hadden and his partners calculated she was minutes from giving birth and knew they had to act fast.
Moments later, Rebecca Grace was born in the back of an ambulance.
“We went from caring for one patient to two: the woman and the baby,” Marc Hadden said.
When he arrived at the hospital after that 2011 incident, he learned the newborn was up for adoption. Jokingly, he told doctors he would be her father.
He told his wife, Beth. She responded, “Can we keep her?”
“We had prayed about it for so long,” he said. “We wanted to adopt because we were unable to have more kids. We always dreamed of adopting a little girl.”
Forty-eight hours later, the Haddens brought the newborn home for good.
“To see my wife’s face light up when we brought Gracie home. I can’t even begin to tell you … ,” he recalled.
Gracie, now 5, is a budding gymnast and soccer player. She’s the youngest of three and her older brothers Will, 14, and Parker, 12, embraced her as part of the family from the moment she arrived home.
Life is different for firefighter Hadden now. He said the addition to his family was more than he could have asked for.
“Every day I look forward to waking her up, getting her ready for school, then picking her up later on,” said the beaming father, now retired from firefighting. “I am living the best days of my life. She contributed to all of our lives.”
From the moment Gracie could comprehend, he told her about how she was born and even took her to visit the exact ambulance where it happened.
“She knows the entire story, but we know we’ll have to reinforce it as she becomes older and becomes more cognizant of everything around her,” he said.
Following Gracie’s birth, the Myrtle Beach Fire Department named Hadden firefighter of the year. But he says there’s no better reward than having the girl he’s always wanted.
“She’s a special person,” he said. “We know it and she knows it.”